It’s no secret that I like Redbreast. In fact, “like” is a lesser word than it deserves…….I adore Redbreast. It’s my go to whiskey. My desert Island whiskey. It’s the first whiskey that gave me the wow factor back when I was beginning my journey in earnest. While the whiskey has always been exceptional, the story behind it always interested me. At 109 years old, it is a brand that has stood the test of time with only a minor hiccup along the way when production was stopped in the early 80’s for almost 10 years. (There were two hiccups…..but lets not discuss “that” blend…..). The full history of Redbreast is well catalogued by Carol Quinn, the Irish Distillers Archivist and is readily available here for your viewing pleasure!
While it may have lay dormant for 10 years, in 1991 it was re launched onto the world stage and evolved over the next number of years to what we know and love today. It is the flagship of the Irish Distillers Single Pot Still portfolio. The brand that is making the most headway in show casing the style of whiskey we know and love all around the world.
Obviously I’m not the only mega fan. Redbreast has a huge loyal fanbase that extends well before the launch of the Dream Cask series that have drawn many many more people to the Redbreast cause. But within that fanbase, some of the mega nerds have long held that Irish Distillers needed to catapult a homage to the Redbreast of older days onto the world stage. 5 years ago Willie Murphy, aka, Pot Still Will, the Redbreast mega fan and expert, burnt my ear about how there should be a bottle to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its re appearance. And from here rose a whisper that extended into loud roars looking for a trad pot heavy, cask strength Redbreast that would indeed celebrate that anniversary. One that, like a lot of whiskeys we now see, took its lead from the whiskeys of the past.
So here were are. 30 years since Redbreast re emerged, brushed itself off and quickly dominated the Single Pot Still market space we are returning to the past for inspiration. This 10 year old special edition is not only an exceptionally crafted whiskey, it is a beautifully designed one. The label a throw back to the 1960’s 10 year olds. The box, also quite retro in design. I must say, I’m very impressed at its visual presence! But most people aren’t as nerdy as I am to bask in the visuals. Most just want to know how its tastes. So here goes!!
Nose – Clean, pronounced flavours jump from the glass. The 59.1% ABV is apparent but not overpowering. Leather with a wisp of cigar tobacco and a touch of freshly ground coffee. Sherry nuttiness shines through with some stone and tropical fruits.
Palate – Heeelllooooo trad pot! That heavy distillate creates a wonderful mouth-filling texture. Intermediate wood spice in the form of cracked black pepper is slowly stripped back by a slight grapefruit bitterness that then reveals a raisin and date sweetness. I get a faint blueberry note that I just cant put my finger on also. Weird eh.
Finish – A caramel sweetness signals the beginning of a medium to long finish that lingers nicely as all those wood spices disappear.
Water – The palate takes water very well, stripping back some of those wood tannin spices to allow some peach and green apple flavours take over.
Overall – I’m a sucker for trad pot. For instance, the trad pot component for Redbreast 21 is something I dream of bottling (it is 32 odd years old though!!). So my palate really takes to it and while I know that it, combined with a younger aged spirit might not be to everyone’s taste buds……but you’ll be struggling not to like. I kind of expected some more pronounced dark berry notes which would have been the icing on the cake for me……but you know what, for this price and this ABV I’m a very very happy boyo.
This release launches tomorrow at 12 midday exclusively on the Birdhouse website for €100. I am unsure of the numbers available at this time, however I am assured it will be very plentiful. EDIT – 7,000 bottles to be released at a limit of 2 per person.
Below is the official press release from Irish Distillers limited.
Redbreast Irish Whiskey, which is produced by Irish Distillers at Midleton Distillery, has unveiled Redbreast 10-Year-Old, a reimagining of Gilbey’s historic expression, last produced half a century ago. The limited-edition release celebrates 30 years since the resurrection of Redbreast Irish Whiskey and salutes the continuous revival of single pot still Irish whiskey on the world stage.
Redbreast 10-Year-Old pays tribute to the historic expression originally produced by W.A Gilbey, a wine and spirits merchant operating in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century. As importers, Gilbey’s had an ample supply of sherry casks in their vaults and would source distillate exclusively from the nearby Jameson Distillery to mature in their casks. This special bottling of Redbreast 10-Year-Old has been reimagined for a contemporary audience, signifying the ongoing renaissance of single pot still Irish whiskey.
The liquid is composed of three exceptional distillates, spanning 10 to 15 years in age, matured in both American oak ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry seasoned butts from Spain. A truly special offering, the inclusion of a rare, more traditional style of single pot still distillate which is usually reserved for older age-statement whiskeys in the Redbreast range pays tribute to the historic expression last produced in the 1970s. A significant contribution from the sherry butts references the prominent use of fortified wine casks in whiskey bonding throughout Ireland in the 1960s. Evoking the quality and craftmanship of Redbreast Irish Whiskey, this expression brings together rich and fruity flavours from across the world while paying homage to bonding, a tradition embedded in Ireland’s whiskey history.
The distinctive packaging of Redbreast 10-Year-Old has been designed to enhance the traditional credentials of the Redbreast brand, which was first brought to life in 1912, and features a timeline of significant dates in the brand’s history. The label, an outlier within the current Redbreast Irish Whiskey family and reminiscent of the original white label and red seal from the historic Gilbey’s 10-Year-Old, is set to appeal to the nostalgia of dedicated Redbreast fans around the world.
Bottled at cask strength, at an ABV of 59.1%, Redbreast 10-Year-Old will retail at €100. The expression will be available exclusively via The Birdhouse, Redbreast’s online membership platform, as a reward for loyal Redbreast fans whose dedication is driving the brand’s success as the most decorated single pot still Irish whiskey in the world.
On the launch of Redbreast 10-Year-Old, Master Blender, Billy Leighton comments: “This release rejoices the longstanding history of Redbreast Irish Whiskey and celebrates the distinctive qualities which Redbreast is known for globally. Redbreast 10-Year-Old offers a unique, rich flavour profile with notes of tropical and dried fruit, which gives way to a balance of richness from the inclusion of sherry casks. I am delighted to share this release with whiskey advocates and Redbreast fans across the globe.”
Blender, Dave McCabe adds: “Redbreast has gone from strength to strength to become the largest selling single pot still Irish whiskey in the world, with a fascinating and rich history of which we are incredibly proud. For this limited-edition bottling, we seized the opportunity to praise the iconic sherry influence on the range and pay tribute to the rich history between Spanish and Irish craft. This is a representation of the coming together of tradition, and true craftsmanship, which has been handed down for generations.”
Redbreast 10-Year-Old will be available exclusively via The Birdhouse on 11 March https://www.redbreastwhiskey.com/en-EN/thebirdhouse
Official Tasting notes
Aroma: Intense aromatics of honeycomb and cedarwood with earthy notes, dried tobacco leaf and worn leather. Dark fruits linger in the background and slowly develop overtime along with toasted almonds and demerara sugar, while a pot still spice intensity continues to build, adding to the complexity of flavours layered over a strong foundation of oak.
Taste: Rich in tannins that work in tandem with the inclusion of traditional pot still distillate creating balance between oak and spirit. The oloroso wine casks emerge to contribute marzipan and fig along with subtle hints of mixed berry compote, while delicate touches of vanilla and treacle are found lingering in the background.
Finish: The pot still spices rise to a crescendo and then finally give way to the toasted oak and delicate sweetness that lingers until the very end.